Increasing Your Metabolism: A Practical Approach
The word Metabolism gets a lot of hype in the Fitness Industry because we equate it with our bodies ability to burn calories. Up until now, there’s been limited, QUALITY information available on how to increase your metabolism. Often, countless posts on a variety of platforms push methods such as drinking more cold water and Green Tea, or seasoning your food with the appropriate spices in order to make your body a “Fat Burning Machine”. In this article will discuss what our Metabolism really is, and how we can take practical steps to increase it.
What is Your Metabolism?
When referring to our Metabolism and it’s relation to burning calories, what we’re really talking about is our Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR). Our RMR is a fancy term for how much energy (how many calories) our body requires to facilitate all of our bodily functions. Everything our body does requires energy (calories), and it is normally dependent factors such as genetics, our total body weight, and how much lean muscle mass our body caries in relation to fat.
Methods to Increase Your Metabolism
To keep this article simple, we’ll focus on the methods we can use in order to increase our metabolism. It is because of these methods that we, and most dieticians and nutritionists, strongly recommend engaging in physical activity as a method for weight loss.
Essentially, you can think of the body’s energy needs as a big pie. Most of that pie is made up of basic bodily functions such as breathing, digestion, etc. A good chunk of that pie is dependent on the amount of physical activity you participate in. And a small, but still somewhat significant amount of that pie is based on the thermic effect of food.
When our body is sleeping we require less energy. When our body is awake we require more energy. And when our body is moving around often at varying intensities we require even more energy. The more energy we require the more calories our body will burn.
The only method to increase your RMR long term is resistance training. This is due to the fact that resistance training increases the amount of lean muscle mass our body possesses. The more lean muscle mass we have, the more energy we require to perform daily movements and activities.
High Intensity Interval Training
On top of this, Resistance Training increases our need for Oxygen AFTER the workout is over.. High Intensity Interval Training also has this effect, better known as Excess Post Oxygen Consumption (EPOC). However, this does not raise our metabolism. It simply increases the amount of energy needed to recover from that bout the following day. So, although your metabolism will spike the following day, it will not continue to stay that way unless there is the presence of resistance training to grow and maintain lean muscle mass.
Though, like High Intensity Interval Training, being physically active throughout the day won’t raise your RMR, increasing your daily activity is one of the best ways to get the most out of your metabolism. The more active you are, the more energy your body will use, and the more calories you will burn.
Thermic Effect of Food
Although it should not be the main focus for increasing our RMR, there are some ways in which we can raise our metabolism via the foods we eat. For starters, certain macronutrients will require more energy to break down than others. In addition, there are spices and extracts you can add to your diet to help speed things up.
Protein, Fiber, and Dietary Fats
Foods that are more nutrient dense require more energy to breakdown and digest than foods that are more calorie dense. Nutrient dense is a term used to describe foods that have a high nutrient to calorie ratio, where there are many nutrients per calorie of food. Calorie dense describes foods with a high calorie to nutrient ratio.
For example, a piece of salmon will have a much higher ratio of nutrients to calories than french fries. The more dense in nutrients the food is, the harder the body has to work to digest it. Foods that are listed as Proteins will require roughly 20-25% of their calories just to process it through the body. Focusing on foods that are high in Protein, Fiber, and Dietary Fats will require the most amount of energy to digest.
In addition to your nutrient dense foods, other compounds and extracts have a benefit to your metabolism. These include:
- Green Tea
- Hot Peppers
- Most Spices
- and Water
Keep in mind that although these foods are thermogenic by nature, they only have the potential to increase your metabolism by roughly 100 calories on a given day. When you stack that up against increasing your physical activity and just eating healthier, it doesn’t carry much weight (no pun intended).
The important thing to remember is that you’ll waste a lot of effort and time if you’re not exercising, eating improperly, and solely trying to focus on quick dietary adjustments to help you burn more fat. Once all of the larger building blocks are in place, then you can start to use more specific practices to increase your metabolism.